After watching the NBA in general the last week and LeBron James in particular this week there must be a bunch of elderly South African exiles kicking themselves today. If only they had known!
Just think, if back in 1979 or the early 80’s South Africa PM Pieter Botha had the foreknowledge of today he could have invested a big chunk of South Africa’s not unsubstantial wealth in the NBA. What a difference it would have made!
Imagine Magic Johnson or Doctor J or Michael Jordan out there saying how misunderstood South Africa is. Ponder Celtics big three of Bird, Parish and McHale insisting that we have no business butting in. Picture Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman James Worthy, Patrick Ewing and the lot having no comment and finally Sir Charles statement on china rephrased defending his fellow players not getting into the issue of Apartheid in South Africa because of finances.
And why stop at South Africa? Think of all the other oppressive regimes in the past 100 years, if they only knew that a stake in an American sports league might have made the difference for them. The Central Powers might have won World War 1. Saddam might still be feeding people into wood chippers, the Soviet Union might not have fallen (the idea of funding US colleges turned out to operate too slow to save them), Idi Amin kids would be ruling Uganda, Hitler might still control most of Europe and completed his final solution.
And of course if baseball crazy Japan had thought of this in 1940 this entire China kerfuffle wouldn’t exist because Japan, thanks presumably to the support of US Ballplayers they had paid, wouldn’t have felt the need to hit Pearl Harbor. Instead they would still be ruling China with an iron fist.
All of these things could have been if they had only thought of investing in a US sports league the way China has the NBA.
Of course it’s just possible that today we are dealing with lesser sons of greater fathers who would not have sold themselves, but there just might be some elderly Japanese vet in a nursing home who fought in China in 1940 watching all this unfold on TV & thinking to himself. “It would have been worth a shot”
When Houston Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey tweeted, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” Communist China called a foul. Down came the tweet and Chinese state television axed two NBA exhibition games. NBA boss Adam Silver promptly announced, “We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.” Silver also barred NBA players then in China from speaking to the media.
For observers far and wide, particularly in embattled Hong Kong, it was a clear exhibition of China’s totalitarianism and a clear case of the NBA cowardly caving to China’s Communist dictatorship.
In the political, entertainment, and even the sports commentariat, many made that charge, but Golden State Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr said he had no comment on the “really bizarre international story,” and “a lot of us don’t know what to make of it.” It was a strange response for someone with firsthand knowledge of oppression and violence.
An NBA champion as a player and coach, Steve Kerr is the son of Malcolm Kerr, whose parents Stanley and Elsa arrived in the Middle East in 1919 to join relief efforts that followed the Armenian genocide. As Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee recalled, in the early 1980s Malcolm Kerr left UCLA to become president of the American University of Beirut, “despite increasing political instability within the region.” Then, in 1984, Malcolm Kerr “was shot to death by terrorists outside his office.”
As a writer for ESPN noted, “two Islamic terrorists ambushed Malcolm outside his university office and shot him in the back of the head for the crime of being an American.” When the Islamic terrorists gunned down his father, Steve was only 18 and a freshman at the University of Arizona. Kerr wept through a moment of silence for his father prior to tipoff against archrival Arizona State.
Four years later, as Kerr and his teammates warmed up before a game with that same school, a group of 10-15 people began chanting “PLO! PLO!” The group also chanted, “Your father’s history” and “Why don’t you join the Marines and go back to Beirut?” As Kerr told Tracy Dodds of the Los Angeles Times, it was “pretty disgusting. It’s hard to believe that people would do that.”
Lots of previously unbelievable things are happening these days.